29 Jan Democracy may be on Life Support
I can’t breathe. Don’t unplug or silence me. Just empower me.
When the freedom to have dissenting or differing opinions is discouraged or defined as negative, democracy is severely weakened and threatened. Sadly, some think unanimous agreement is respect. Teamwork and unity is best accomplished when all voices are included in the final solution.
Town hall meetings bring the government closer to the people. In a democratic government the people rule. Today, democracy is under fire and heavily challenged. The citizens and the government both are accountable for following the laws. The government’s role is to intervene only when to protect its citizen. Sometimes, the government may intervene too much or not enough. A delicate balance is required. The word democracy comes from two words that are Greek in nature. The word “demos” means (the people) and “kratia” means (power or authority). Our form of government is one that gives power to the people. Based on the rule of law it could be a “slippery slope” to navigate from this foundation. Did you know that in the Declaration of Independence or US Constitution the word “democracy” is not mentioned not even one time? Yet our government is a democracy so why is the word missing.
Trust is slipping away. Well did we learned from the rise and fall of Rome? A quick glance in history reminds us why democracy is worth fighting for especially in today’s political climate. Quieting the voices of constituents, misinterpretations, misrepresentations, conflicting governing and charters and the like are rapidly infiltrating government. Legal loopholes are aggressively pursued and operating in the “gray” areas is prevalent and most often preferred. Just because it is legal does not necessarily make it ethical. Power hungry leaders are forgetting the process for justice and are quite comfortable in an unethical environment not to mention personal gain.
Could we be breeding a generation of “me first” and “instant gratification” individuals who have lost sight of democracy and hard work? Maybe we sacrificed some precious freedoms for quick gains. Hard, work, morals, values and many freedoms are threatened when teamwork and unity are defined by unanimous agreement. The gap is widening between the rich and the poor and is like a locomotive train without brakes. What’s even scarier is the quest for full agreement and ostracizing and shunning differences of opinion.
A basic fundamental foundation of our government is letting the people speak their opinion without labeling them as negative. Differences and dissenting opinion is a facilitator for justice. Accountability and transparency are often feared by politicians.
Supreme power is vested in the people but many are quick to give it away. If you have a beautiful, healthy community, quality shops and restaurants, high paying jobs, few potholes and low crime rates, then it is proper to assume your elected officials are pursuing a path of success for you and that the people have exercised their power to hold them accountable.
So what is wrong with the democratic process or government? Democracy is structured on the premise that all should have equitable rights and be allowed to equally participate in important government decisions either through your elected leaders or through the establishment of laws. The government is elected by its citizens and the primary role of the government is to act in ways that benefits the people.
One way we can strengthen democracy begins with consistent voter education. Second, respect for dissenting opinion and eliminate the heavy influence of cash. Although democracy may appear to be on “ life support” it is still one of the best forms of government and offers more opportunities to be heard than many around the world. Therefore it can be revived with great, self-sacrificing leadership, transparency and accountability is one of the best ways to create a fair, just democratic process when all will thrive. As a Rotarian may say: “…..service above self” can revive democracy.